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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Cuomo admin hits Gibson on climate; RGGI record

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

Good morning! Only POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it at that time, along with a customized real-time news feed of New York energy policy news throughout the day, please contact us at and we'll set you up for trial access. We’ll send the same newsletter to non-Pro subscribers at 10 a.m. Thank you for reading.

CUOMO ADMINISTRATION CRITICIZES GIBSON OVER CLIMATE VOTE—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: “The state’s acting Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner, Basil Seggos, on Friday criticized New York’s congressional delegation for voting against an Obama administration plan to reduce air pollution from power plants. Congressional Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson of Kinderhook and U.S. Rep Elise Stefanik of Willsboro, voted this week in support of a resolution that would override federal Environmental Protection Agency rules to curb emissions. The federal Clean Power Plan requires states to cut emissions from power plants, one of the primary sources of air pollution. The plan is one of the Obama administration’s signature environmental initiatives, and any attempts to restrict the EPA’s powers are largely symbolic as Obama would certainly veto them.”

RGGI PRICES HIT RECORD, AGAIN—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The prices for carbon allowances in the latest cap and trade program in the Northeast jumped 24 percent to a record $7.50, according to results announced Friday. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auctions pollution credits to industry to generate funds that support clean energy initiatives in its nine participating states. That includes $44.3 million for New York in the latest auction. The results represented a 256 percent increase since December 2013 when prices were $2.92 per allowance, according to RGGI administrators.

DE BLASIO’S FAILED FOAM BAN — POLITICO’s David Giambusso: “Polystyrene foam food containers aren't going anywhere for the foreseeable future. The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court has denied a motion by Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration to challenge a recent court decision vacating the mayor’s attempted ban on the containers. The ban was predicated on a 2013 law that stipulates a foam ban can only be enacted if the city determines there is no long-term, viable means of recycling the food and beverage containers most often used by take-out restaurants and street vendors. Dart Container Corp. offered the city a five-year plan to recycle the containers, which are not biodegradable, but sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said a five-year plan did not constitute a sustainable, long-term solution. In January, de Blasio enacted the ban, prompting outcry from Dart and its allies in the restaurant industry who claimed they were blindsided and that de Blasio and Garcia had ignored their proposal. They mounted a legal challenge and won.”

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing more than 61 percent of New York’s carbon-free electricity, nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. New York’s nuclear energy fleet supports about 18,000 jobs and provides $2.5 billion to the state’s GDP. Learn more at **


--The state comptroller will increase the state pension fund’s investment in low-carbon, sustainable businesses.

--General Electric says that a financially-struggling startup in which it invested, and which created smart air conditioners that reduce energy use, damaged its business.

--The Albany Times Union asks what it is really costing the state to save the aluminum smelters at Alcoa.

--It may take Exxon into next year to fully comply with a subpoena issued last month by the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman because the delay reflects the sheer scope of the records investigators are seeking on the company's climate science research and communications about it.

--Brownfield cleanup work has begun on a site near Rochester.

--Entergy plays down Indian Point closure: The AP reports, “The company that owns the Indian Point nuclear power plant says one of the plant's two reactors will remain closed for a couple of days following a minor equipment issue that forced a shutdown. The Indian Point 2 reactor was shut down at around 5:30 p.m. Saturday after several control rods lost power. Plant owner Entergy reported no radiation was released into the environment. Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi blamed the shutdown on ‘a relatively minor equipment issue’ in an email Sunday.

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PARIS ACCORD — The New York Times’ Coral Davenport: “The international climate change negotiations entering their second and final week encompass a vast and complicated array of political, economic and legal questions. But at bottom, the talks boil down to two issues: trust and money. In this global forum, no one questions the established science that greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are warming the planet — or that both developed and developing economies must all eventually lower their greenhouse emissions to stave off a future that could wreak havoc on the world’s safety and economic stability. In a major breakthrough, 184 governments have already submitted plans detailing how they will cut their domestic emissions after 2020. Those pledges are expected to make up the core of a new accord, which could be signed next weekend. The agreement is also expected to require countries to return to the table at least once every 10 years with even more stringent emissions reduction pledges.”

FIGHTING TRUTH ON CLIMATE CHANGE—The New York Times’ John Schwartz: “In Paris, representatives from nearly 200 countries are discussing how to fight climate change. But in Washington, some congressional leaders continue to wage a battle over climate science itself. In a series of letters and public statements, Representative Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas who is chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has accused the Obama administration and federal researchers of manipulating global warming research to pursue, as he put it on Tuesday, the administration’s “suspect climate agenda.” Supporters of the scientists and officials in question accuse Mr. Smith of starting a sweeping investigation intended to quash solid science for political ends.”

ELECTRIC CARS LESS EFFICIENT WHEN TEMPERATURE DROPS—Bloomberg’s Jeff Plungis: “California’s mandatory sales targets for electric and hydrogen-powered cars will go from less than 1 percent today to more than 15 percent by 2025. The targets, the result of legislation passed in 2003, are a means of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The same targets will go into effect in nine other states that have chosen to adopt California’s emissions-reduction standards rather than follow laxer federal rules: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. “Electrification is a needed part of the solution,” says Matt Solomon, transportation director of Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, a nonprofit consortium representing the air quality agencies of eight states.”

LESSON FROM DENMARK’S GREEN REVOLUTION—The New York Times’ Melissa Eddy: “The debate going on in Denmark may serve as a cautionary tale for leaders of the 195 countries now meeting in Paris and trying to reach a global deal to rein in dangerous greenhouse gases that have been linked to climate change. Should the negotiators be able to put aside their conflicting agendas, and sign an accord when the talks end this week, they will then face another challenge: meeting their national goals. One lesson they may learn from Denmark is how it is possible to substantially replace fossil fuels with clean and renewable energy. But even when progress is made in reducing environmentally harmful carbon emissions, countries may have difficulty sustaining the gains because of politics, economic concerns and, in places like the United States, ideological disputes.”

HOW MUCH OF OUR FOSSIL FUELS MUST BE LEFT IN GROUND TO MEET CLIMATE TARGETS—538’s Christie Aschwaden: “The burden isn’t going to be shared equally: There will be winners and losers, and that means countries face tough choices. Do they maximize their energy resources — reaping the revenues and short-term stability that come with them — or exercise restraint for the greater good? Without the infrastructure to compensate countries that leave fossil fuels undeveloped, the economic benefits of energy development will often remain at odds with climate goals. As the U.S. debates what to do about the Keystone XL pipeline and countries get ready for climate talks in Paris this year, the new figures on “unburnable” fuels make clear that there’s no time to waste. The new study calculates that staying within a 2-degree carbon budget will require countries to leave 80 percent of coal, 50 percent of gas and 33 percent of global oil untouched until at least 2050. Those numbers are in line with previous estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency, but this report takes the calculations a step further by accounting for which reserves are best exploited, and which are better off left untapped.”

L.A. TIMES PANS ETHANOL: The Los Angeles Times editorial board is not happy with the ethanol mandate rolled out by the EPA recently. “The Environmental Protection Agency announced an increase last week in the amount of corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels that oil companies must add to the nation's gasoline supply. While the new standard of 18 billion gallons in 2016 — most of it ethanol brewed from corn — is lower than what Congress mandated, it is still far too high for the environment, and for the economy. In fact, the entire mandate program was and is a bad idea.”

VIKINGS AND CLIMATE CHANGE — Columbia University: “A new study questions the popular notion that 10th-century Norse people were able to colonize Greenland because of a period of unusually warm weather. Based upon signs left by old glaciers, researchers say the climate was already cold when the Norse arrived--and that climate thus probably played little role in their mysterious demise some 400 years later. On a larger scale, the study adds to building evidence that the so-called Medieval Warm Period, when Europe enjoyed exceptionally clement weather, did not necessarily extend to other parts of the world. 'It's becoming clearer that the Medieval Warm Period was patchy, not global,' said lead author Nicolás Young, a glacial geologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.”

NO ONE BLINKING ON OIL OUTPUT — The Wall Street Journal: “The standoff between major global energy producers that has created an oil glut is set to continue next year in full force, as much because of the U.S. as of OPEC. American shale drillers have only trimmed their pumping a little, and rising oil flows from the Gulf of Mexico are propping up U.S. production. The overall output of U.S. crude fell just 0.2% in September, the most recent monthly federal data available, and is down less than 3%, to 9.3 million barrels a day, from the peak in April. Some analysts see the potential for U.S. oil output to rise next year, even after Saudi Arabia and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Friday again declined to reduce their near-record production of crude. With no end in sight for the glut, U.S. oil closed on Friday below $40 a barrel for the second time this month.”


--Oil fell below $40 Friday: The Wall Street Journal reports that with no one slowing production, the price of oil dipped ever lower.

“Light, sweet crude for January delivery settled down $1.11, or 2.7%, at $39.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices fell 4.2% on the week. Brent, the global benchmark, dropped 84 cents, or 1.9%, to $43 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, posting a 4.1% weekly loss.”

--Natural gas picked up Friday, on colder weather and dwindling supply, the Journal reports.

“Prices for the front-month January contract settled up 0.5 cent, or 0.2%, at $2.186 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gas lost 1.2% for the week, its fourth-consecutive losing week.”

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Some of America’s existing nuclear energy plants face early closure due to current economic and policy conditions. Providing more than 62% of America’s carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals.

In New York, nuclear energy plants provide 31 percent of the state’s electricity and 61 percent of our carbon-free electricity. The existing nuclear energy plants in New York also support about 18,000 jobs and provide $2.5 billion to the state’s GDP.

If we want to keep New York working, we need policies that will keep New York’s state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants working for all of us. Join us at **

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